A customer gets his power cut off after paying his bill (January 2017)

Energy disconnection and water restriction
Case Number 2016/23075
Outcome Conciliation

The Issue

Mr R was dissatisfied with his electricity retailer after having his electricity cut off. He had his credit card stolen, resulting in his bank account being frozen. Because his bank account had been frozen he was unable to access his funds and pay his bill. As a result, he received a a disconnection notice in September 2016. He contacted his retailer to update it on the situation and paid the $413 bill before the disconnection deadline on 15 October 2016. However, his power was disconnected on 17 October 2016. Mr R provided evidence of payment, but his retailer advised it would charge him a reconnection fee.

Disappointed with this response, Mr R contacted the Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria) the following day and lodged a complaint. He wanted the reconnection fee and his final energy bill waived, and permission to transfer his account to a different retailer.

The Investigation

Due to the complexity of the case and the fact that it the customer’s electricity supply was disconnected, we commenced an Investigation and arranged for Mr R’s power to be reconnected on the same day that he contacted us.

As part of this Investigation, we reviewed all available account information and relevant communication between Mr R and his energy company. The Investigation showed that the payment of $413 was only received on 18 October 2016, one day after the disconnection, yet payment was made on 15 October 2016 – a Saturday, which could explain the delay.

The Outcome

The retailer advised the remaining balance of Mr R’s account was $295, which was the total amount for two previous invoices. To resolve the matter, it advised it would waive the outstanding balance as well as the reconnection fees, and confirmed it would accept a retrospective transfer to another retailer without charging an exit fee.

Mr R was happy with the outcome and the case was closed. He was also given a direct contact at his retailer in case there were any further issues.

WDP outcome

EWOV also reviewed the retailer’s assessment of the applicability of a Wrongful Disconnection Payment (WDP), independently from the Investigation.

Mr R’s supply was cut off because of overdue bills, totalling $568. As part of normal procedure, the retailer appeared to have taken all required steps leading up to the disconnection: an initial bill, a reminder bill and a disconnection notice. The retailer also contacted the customer via SMS a month before the disconnection to advise them. Taking the above into consideration, it was decided that a WDP was not payable.

Read more also about disconnection and restriction and watch the video on our Energy Disconnection and water restriction page, or download Fact Sheet 8: Disconnection and restriction for debt [PDF, 251 KB].

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